5 things to know about General Motors CEO Mary Barra

As the first woman to ever lead one of the top three automakers in the US, Mary Barra certainly needs no introduction. But, here are five other things worth knowing about one of the world’s most influential women.

Highest paid automaker CEO in the world

Barra is one of the highest paid CEOs in the world and the highest paid automaker by some way: according to a study conducted by Automotive News, Barra took home an incredible $40.3m in 2020.

This is more than twice the amount Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett took home in 2020 ($16.7m) and more than four times the total compensation of Volkswagen CEO, Herbert Diess, who received $9.85m in 2020.

Second-generation worker at General Motors

Barra’s father worked as a die-maker for Pontiac, an automobile brand manufactured by General Motors, in the same plant for 40 years.

So, once Barra started at General Motors as a co-op student back in 1980, she became the second-generation in her family to work at the automotive giant.

Started out studying engineering

Although Barra received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Stanford University in 1990, which is fitting considering her position as a high-paid CEO, the Michigan native originally studied as an Engineer.

Graduating from Kettering University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, Barra was later inducted into the oldest engineering honor society in the United States, Tau Beta Pi.

Keeps a bobblehead of Albert Einstein on her desk

A fun fact about Barra, who was ranked the fourth most influential woman in the world by Forbes in 2018, is that she keeps a bobblehead of the famous German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein on her desk. Reportedly, several model cars can also be found alongside the Einstein bobblehead.

Believes crediting the entire team is essential

Barra’s top tips for business leaders include collecting accurate information is one way for leaders to see improvement. Determining what feedback leaders should act on and not being ashamed to ask for help or listen to the people you’re leading, if you’re lacking knowledge, are two other top tips from Barra.

Barra also believes it’s better for leaders to credit their entire team, rather than hogging the limelight for themselves.